By Chelsea Rankin.
Patrick Henry College
“The Lord brought me back here,” Millsap said, smiling.
Generation Joshua’s iGovern teen camp ran last week at Patrick Henry College, complete with 137 campers, mock political campaigns and worship services. The camp was birthed out of the desire of Joel Grewe, Deputy Director of GenJ, to create Christian leaders who are quick and adept at what they do. Every year, the camp uses politics as a way to teach biblical character.
Dr. Michael Farris, PHC chancellor and HSLDA co-founder, addresses the iGovern camp
“We take powerful principles and deliver them in a fun and interactive way to burn them into their minds so they remember it forever,” Grewe said.
For example, after receiving a lecture on a topic, students must apply what they learned in a simulation just a few hours later. Grewe believes this reinforces what students are learning.
While students may be learning about government, the principles they learn can cross-apply to Christianity. Grewe points to the lecture on lobbying. Since lobbying is the act of advocating for different ideas, Grewe believes it is another way of learning evangelism, since Christians advocate for Christ.
Grewe dislikes the low standard set for teenagers and believes that students are capable of more than society expects from them. At iGovern, teen campers are treated like adults, and, as a result, act like adults.
“God has blessed these kids because they have a larger influence than most people their age,” Grewe said. “They can’t vote, but come November, they will put people in office or take them out.”
Grace Tate, a 20-year-old iGovern counselor, was a former Generation Joshua student. Her involvement began at the age of 13, when she participated in the Student Action Teams -- GenJ’s week-long campaign trip for students. A few years later, she attended summer camp and fell in love with the heart behind GenJ. The program enriched her life so much that she wanted to give back through mentoring students.
Campers on field trip, in the United States Capitol Visitor Center
She loves mentoring campers during the summer. Watching them grow spiritually and intellectually shows Tate the areas in which she also needs to grow. It encourages her to live up to what she is teaching. She enjoys watching each camper’s set of unique gifts and talents and the way they use them to glorify God during their time at iGovern.
“Instead of just learning about the problems in the world, students are given tools to address those problems,” she said.
Michael Robertson, a 17-year-old camper from Massachusetts, is attending iGovern for the third year in a row this summer. His favorite part has been the friendships he’s made -- ties that are strong enough to keep him coming back year after year. He loves meeting other kids who share the same set of beliefs that he does. iGovern has also taught him a lot about leadership.
“I’ve seen how much leadership counts,” Robertson said. “I’ve tried to step up to the plate more to be someone who participates, not just someone who sits back and watches. It’s taught me to take on more responsibilities at home and at my youth group.”
According to Millsap, while the new friendships and leadership skills will provide great tools for the future, the best part of iGovern is the testimonies shared by counselors and campers. It has taught her to not be afraid of government and has given her a clear understanding of what the Founders sought to accomplish. iGovern showed her that she can make a difference, even if it is not in the way she imagines she will.
Millsap doesn’t just preach what she has learned, but has tried to live it out, even in the way she trusted God to provide funds for her to return to iGovern.
“We might be weak, but God is strong,” she said, referencing Jeremiah 29:11-13, where God told Jeremiah He had a plan for his future. “It wasn’t what Jeremiah had in mind, but God had a plan. When we wait and seek God, He will answer us.”